The fall season is almost upon us, which means football - no not THAT football - is almost upon us. Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams are ranked going into the 2017 season with #13 and #11 rankings, respectively.
In 2016, the men’s soccer team went 11-4-5 for the season (3-2-3 in the ACC) and lost on a heartbreaker to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The game went to double overtime, with Stanford netting the golden goal at the 106 minute mark of the contest. The Hoos bring 14 newcomers into the program in a class that has been ranked in the top ten by TopDrawerSoccer, giving head coach George Gelnovatch his second straight season with a top ten incoming class. Virginia went international for the 2017 incoming class with players coming all the way from Australia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, England, and New Zealand.
Virginia brings in a lot, but graduated a lot of talent last season as well. Paddy Foss and Nicko Corriveau have departed, taking 1,954 minutes of experience from 2016 with them. Both played a part in Virginia’s 2014 National Championship (Foss converted his kick during the penalty shootout to decide the game), but Virginia also returns some key players. Jeff Caldwell enters his fourth year as one of the top goalkeepers in the ACC as he earned All-ACC Second Team honors last season where he recorded 75 saves and nine shutouts. Redshirt fourth year Pablo Aguilar returns for one last go in Charlottesville after leading the team with seven goals last season, and Edward Opoku (six goals) will be a third year.
Stanford earned the top spot in the pre-season poll for 2017, and Virginia will face several of the predicted top-25 teams this season as they are scheduled against #4 North Carolina, #8 UNC, #10 Notre Dame, and #17 Virginia Tech. Fellow ACC teams Wake Forest (#2), Clemson (#5), and Louisville (#9) are also ranked this season.
On the Women’s side, the Hoos come in at #11 in the first pre-season poll. Virginia went 15-5-2 (6-2-2 ACC) last season, losing to Georgetown 2-0 in the NCAA tournament. Steve Swanson and co. lose last season’s leading scorer in Alexis Shaffer (13 goals) and goalkeeper Morgan Stearns, but return three of their top five leading scorers. Fourth year Veronica Latsko and second year Taylor Ziemer will carry the brunt of the scoring responsibility, but the Hoos have a strong (yet small) incoming class entering Charlottesville. Goalkeeper Laurel Ivory from Florida was the starter for the US U-17 World Cup team and would be a strong contender to land the starting gig in place of Stearns. Taryn Torres, Sophia Weiner, and Sydney Zandi round out the four woman class.
West Virginia earned the top spot in the 2017 preseason poll, and the Hoos will have a chance to take on the top dogs early in the season as they travel to Morgantown on August 24. Virginia will also face #6 UNC, #9 UCLA, #12 Duke, #13 Clemson, and #18 Notre Dame. Florida State is also ranked (#15), but don’t face Virginia in the regular season this year.
The Virginia soccer teams kick off regular season action at UNC-W on August 18 (women’s) and vs Villanova on August 25 (men’s).